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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

West Bank checkpoints will not be removed, says Israeli occupation government defense minister

Israeli Defense Minister: West Bank checkpoints will not be removed

Monday March 24, 2008 19:33 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

The Israeli occupation government defense minister Ehud Barak announced Monday that the Israeli occupation government will not remove the 700 checkpoints, roadblocks and earth mounds that have cut the West Bank into hundreds of isolated islands, and made life for the Palestinian population a constant 'waiting game'.

The United Nations has condemned Israel's checkpoint system as a type of collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank.  The checkpoints put a chokehold on every major artery through the West Bank, and every minor road and path as well.  No travel is possible for Palestinians in the West Bank, even for short distances, without being forced to wait for hours or even days at Israeli-controlled checkpoints.
Barak promised that Israel would create an "industrial zone" within the West Bank to provide cheap labor for Israeli businesses - but Palestinian labor unions have challenged the idea as exploitative, saying that Palestinian businesses and firms exist and should be allowed to operate on their own land.  But Barak gave no timeline for the creation of the "industrial zone".
If it were created, the work would essentially be prison labor, as Palestinians are imprisoned within the Israeli-occupied territories, and would not be allowed to travel beyond the fenced-in "industrial area" controlled by the Israeli military.
Nabil Amr, an advisor to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, criticized the Israeli military's decision to keep the checkpoints in place.  "You cannot punish all of the Palestinians under the umbrella of security", said Amr on Monday.

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